We live in a small community - not exactly a news flash, right?
As a small community of (give or take) 40,000 people, it's important for your business to be involved in the greater community in order to grow your business. You can't do it on your own; success in business requires you to double-down on community involvement to help grow. It's simply good business to get involved.
Here are some examples of how community involvement can help increase your business:
• Visibility. Yes, you've heard it said time and time again, that out of sight means out of mind. This is not a smart strategy for any business, whether times are good or not so good. As Jim Collins said, "good is the enemy of great." While good is the enemy of great, complacency and short-term thinking is the enemy of sustained business success. Get involved in your community to help increase your visibility and increase your word-of-mouth referrals and overall awareness of your business.
• Access. Unless you're crazy or like consistent rejection, no one enjoys making cold calls all day long. It's a painful, tedious process that often wastes far too much time and mentally drains even the most upbeat and friendly person after a while. When you get involved in your community, you'll discover that meeting prospects, who may have an interest or who can refer you to key contacts you're trying to reach, is a huge benefit. Being involved also makes it likely that you'll find yourself in situations where you can identify and meet decision makers face-to-face versus making cold calls.
• Networking. A huge part of a successful business operation is, of course, whom you know. Out of sight, out of mind (as noted earlier) is also true when it relates to networking. Community involvement gives your business different venues and opportunities to meet new people. The positive outcomes on the bottom line of your business, be it a business-to-business operation or a tourism dependent operation, are evident via your community network.
• Voice. A foolish belief among many companies is that they're too big or too small to care about getting involved or joining their local community. A few things they should think about: Are their employees and customers local? Are taxes and school systems important in finding and retaining a high quality work force? These are key areas that help all businesses succeed.
• Collaboration. There is strength in numbers and in learning from others. Collaboration doesn't mean losing your business identity or sacrificing your customers to a competitor. Rather, working together with an industry group or a regional chamber of commerce or your neighborhood gives your business the access (see above) to tools you might not otherwise have at your disposal and to increase your visibility (see above) to grow your market share.
Doing business, and growing your business, in a community such as ours requires a manager/owner to ensure people know about them - even in these days of social media and other mass communications tools, word of mouth is a hugely powerful driver of awareness and traffic to both service providers and retail outlets.
There are numerous ways to get involved in your community via your local chamber or business association, via the Vail Valley Partnership as the regional chamber of commerce and economic development organization for the Vail Valley or through any number of industry trade groups and non-profit organizations. Each of these groups can help you become involved in the greater community and provide a voice to your business - thus increasing awareness of your operation and driving traffic to your door.
So get off the sidelines and get involved in your local merchant group or your industry trade group (there are more than you can imagine, from the Vail Board of Realtors to the Eagle Valley Homebuilders Association to the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association). You'll likely extend your personal and professional network, meet new friends and expose your business to those that didn't know about you.
At the end of the day, that's good business.
What can your business do to help? If you benefit from these community resources and value the networking and other benefits offered to members, get off the sidelines and join the Partnership. If you are already a member, tell your neighbors to join to help us do even more here in the valley.
Chris Romer is executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership.